#Poetry – A Poem a Day: Billy Collins #NPM22

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Happy National Poetry Month! As we launch into this month-long celebration of poetry, there’s no better place to start than Billy Collins’s “Introduction to Poetry.” I don’t believe there’s another poet I enjoy listening to as much as I love hearing Billy Collins read his poetry. “Litany” was one of the first times I encountered Collins, and then I began to binge his work. You should especially watch his TedTalk here – the last poem he shares is particularly wonderful. Before you head there, however, let him teach how to approach a poem. It’s the key to appreciating what you’ll read this month and any time you encounter another poetic gem!

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Source: The Apple that Astonished Paris (University of Arkansas Press, 1996) from Poetry Foundation

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